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Helen K. Garber is a talented photographer and mixed media artist who lived in Santa Monica for thirty four years. Married to Dr. Stuart H. Garber (DC, PhD, AVCA) for over forty years, they were integral fixtures in the community of both Santa Monica and Venice, where Helen maintained an art studio.

Desi, 30” x 42” encaustic mixed media; photo by Helen K. Garber

In 2014, the couple visited Santa Fe and were smitten by its charm and its quiet open air calm. “I call it the stop between life and heaven as it is so peaceful and beautiful. Clean air…slow, laid back living,” explained Helen. This is where she would immerse herself in the horse community and finally open her home to her new gentle giants to become members of her family.

The couple relocated in 2016 – read more about this HERE. You can also find it under the Starting Over drop-down of the Inspiration Page of the Stories Section of ETG.

Best known for her noir photography, she taught night photo workshops through Otis College of Art, the Skirball Center and Emerging Focus, Photo LA. She has merged her attraction to noir with her love of the encaustic technique. Helen has joined the board of the Santa Fe Arts Collective to help mentor emerging artists, and has taught a class called Santa Fe Noir, at the Santa Fe Workshops

Gas Station 4, from the series Chasing Ed Ruscha 30” x 42” encaustic mixed media; photo by Helen K. Garber

A new series evolved out of her transitional journey from Santa Monica, CA to Santa Fe, New Mexico titled Chasing Ed Ruscha (see image above). These photo-based, mixed media works depict decaying gas stations along Route 66.

She most recently has been working on a series featuring classical portraits of horses. The artist incorporates layered photographs onto book pages which are held together with encaustic wax medium. As a resident of Santa Fe, she now has three of her own cherished horses. “Horses have a great purpose to modern society. Equine therapy has helped countless vets with PTSD, children with autism, the physically handicapped and the emotionally, sexually abused. Most of the horses I have photographed are older rescues, saved from kill pens. I am hoping that my portraits will promote the importance of these animals and their right to enjoy respectful lives.” 

Tomás (from the series Mystical Horses), mixed media piece with photo encaustic, 30″ x 42”; by Helen K. Garber

When asked what the art scene is like, she replied, “The photography scene reminds me of Santa Monica in the 1990’s, small, familiar and supportive.” She went on to say that Santa Fe has everything that Santa Monica offered – “Museum receptions, charity events, botanical gardens, world renowned art organizations such as SITE and CCA and the incredibly successful Meow Wolf. Summers are filled to the brim with art and music fairs. Santa Fe Opera draws people from all over the world.”

When Helen and her husband were deciding where to move, Santa Fe was on the top of the list due to all the cultural opportunities. The three hundred galleries, fourteen museums, music and art festivals, have kept the couple engaged, along with the Lensic Theatre which presents jazz, dance and comedy. Another deciding factor was that Santa Fe had little traffic or noise that they grew to dislike in Los Angeles. “The only difficult thing I had to conquer was the lack of diversity here. We are the youngsters at the museum openings and we look for more contemporary art exhibits to breathe along varied generations and skin color.”

She is currently writing a book with Anna Sochocky called Equine Assisted Therapy, the Value of the Horse in Modern SocietyCaptions.

San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico; photo by Helen K. Garber

Within three days of arriving, they were welcomed into an equestrian community that meets once a month for breakfast at rotating houses. Helen said she was enamored bu all of her new interesting neighbors. “We quickly felt comfortable living here. Earth Day was conceived by one of my neighbors, another has a McCarther Fellowship, I could go on and on.” 

The Garbers are big supporters of the local horse rescue, The Horse Shelter. “We sponsor one of the horses each year for their 100 day challenge where a trainer volunteers to prepare a green horse to auction off after 100 days of training. It is a fun event held at the Rodeo grounds and it is amazing what these trainers can do in 100 days.” Stuart joined the board of NMCTR, the local equine assisted therapy organization. “We live and breathe horses, now having three of our own and learning like sponges on how to best take care of them. We also belong to the Northern New Mexico Horseman’s Association and Stuart is on call for Hipico, a horse eventing organization.”

Find out more about Helen K. Garber and her work on her website – http://www.helenkgarber.com

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